Books & Publications

The Day the Zoo Came to Visit

by James D.D. Smith, PhD and illustrated by Stina Brown (32 pp, paperback, illustrated. Read reviews here, and order your copy here!)

The Day the Zoo Came to Visit is a book that is intended to be fun as well as educational. For younger children (ages 3-5), we hope the book will help to increase their awareness of animals and perhaps aid in teaching them the alphabet. It may even teach them a little politeness (the animals don’t leave until Janey says “Please”)! For older children (ages 6+) the book is intended to:

  • Increase vocabulary
  • Increase awareness of and recognition of animals
  • Increase recognition and memory abilities
  • Encourage an interest in zoos generally, and animals in particular.
  • We also hope you will get something out of this book, inviting your children – and you – to learn more about the animals depicted in it.

    Educational Activities

    There are a number of built-in activities for children. For example, one verse runs:

    In the kitchen there were Kangaroos, and Lions lounged in linen, They couldn’t find a single room that lemmings hadn’t been in...

    We have therefore "hidden" a lemming on numerous pages, which children could be encouraged to discover. Depending on the age of your child, other questions you could ask them could include:

  • How many animals in this book are in your zoo?
  • Did you see any animals that don’t belong in a zoo?
  • Can you think of an animal that starts with the letter "A", "B", etc. Can you think of any other animals that start with that letter?
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  • Towards the end of the book, all the animals stop whatever they are doing and listen to the children. Ask your child to name as many of the animals on that page as they can.
  • You may also not be aware that many zoos have strict policies discouraging the anthropomorphizing of animals (comparing animal behaviour to human behaviour, or showing animals doing things that only human beings do - like driving a school bus, or wearing dungarees, for example). The policy is intended to ensure that animals are respected and thought of as animals, and to ensure they are kept wild and in their natural state. We strongly support this policy, but also believe children can be taught to know the difference between fantasy and reality. We encourage you to talk to your children about what the animals are doing in this book, even by simply asking, "Do you think a real animal would do that?".

    A Glossary of the More Unusual Animals

  • Desman (say dez-man): sometimes called a mole, and sometimes called a muskrat, this amphibious animal from Russia has thick, brownish fur, a long snout, and a scaly, flattened tail.
  • Echidna: also called the “spiny anteater”, which can be found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. It has a spiny coat and a sticky tongue for catching insects.
  • Ocelot: a wildcat, nocturnal in nature, with black spots on a coat which varies in colour from reddish gray to yellow (tawny).
  • Zebu: (say zee-boo): a domesticated ox found in Asia and East Africa. It has short horns, long ears, and a large hump on its shoulders.